Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Release the Old, Take Hold of the New

Day 81

 Release the Old, Take Hold of the New

We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
Matthew Henry


hen God calls us to change, He makes no allowance for a partial transformation. Inward cleansing will result in outward renewal; when the new wine of Holy Spirit-fueled life is poured into the heart of a repentant sinner, a new wineskin is required.[i]

We are reluctant to risk change in ways that might draw attention, but this concern must be released or we will quench the Holy Spirit’s flow in an attempt to keep control of how we are perceived by other human beings. The wonderful freedom we have in Christ releases us from the burden of keeping up appearances. 

Fear is an effective deterrent to change. The Israelites’ crossing from the desert into the Promised Land required faith, because reports had told them there were giants in the land and they were afraid.[ii] They moved forward anyway, and according to Matthew Henry, three things happened on their journey between the last stop they made in the desert (Acacia Grove[iii]) and the first camp made in the Promised Land (Gilgal): 1) Their old leader died, and a new leader was appointed, 2) They crossed through the parted waters of the Jordan, and 3) They renewed their practice of circumcision. 

Joshua was the Israelites’ new leader, and can symbolize for us the decision to give up following the demands of sinful flesh in order to follow Christ. The parted waters of the Jordan remind us that even insurmountable obstacles are removed once we determine to follow God’s way and not our own, and the renewal of the practice of circumcision represents obedience. And so the journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal can remind us that although crossing over into a new way of life is at times uncomfortable and frightening, that God will provide for our needs along the way as we place our trust in Him. 

For the Israelites, the journey came down to faith; were they going to believe the exaggerated reports brought to them by those sent ahead to spy out the land, or would they believe God?  We can be sure that the enemy will bring us exaggerated reports of what might happen if we give ourselves without reservation to the God who died to save us (what foolish thing might we do?).
In his concise commentary on 1 John 5:1-5, Matthew Henry says, “Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith…”

Disobedience, then, is a result of lack of faith. As we stand at the border to a new way of living, may we have courage to cross over into the fullness of the promises God has given us. May we stop our ears to the naysaying of the enemy, who tells us it is no use to keep trying and no matter what we try, we will fail. May God increase our faith as we learn to step forward in Him. 

Pray:  Dear Lord, please free me from the rules I’ve lived with my entire life, the ones that tell me I will be rejected if I’m fat, that some foods are good while others are bad, and that I’m bad if I fail to keep on eating in a “good” way. Forgive me for forming an unholy alliance with food out of rebellion toward these rules, and for the resentment and anger I’ve harbored because I have been judged by others and by myself. Free me from the sin that is mine by sinful choice and by inheritance. Rules were my old leader, but now I look to Jesus as my new leader, and I pray for faith and endurance to follow Him without fear and because of love. Please thwart the enemy’s strategies against me and deliver me from bondage into freedom from the demands of sinful flesh, in Jesus’ Name I pray, amen. 

Don’t you remember, my people,
    how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
    and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?
And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
    when I, the Lord, did everything I could
    to teach you about my faithfulness.
Micah 6:5 NLT

[i] Matthew 6:17
[ii] Numbers 13:33
[iii] Acacia Grove is also known as Shittim

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